“The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.” – Phil Jackson

A team always has a leader, but that leader cannot be successful without a team. In the spring of 2013, Vicky Edwards, a 5th grade teacher in Naples, Maine participated in a RESPECT Project roundtable discussion pertaining to a reorganized classroom. This discussion sparked an idea to reorganize the classroom structure for the 5th grade students at Songo Locks Elementary.

Vicky took charge and engaged the 5th grade team to collaborate together to reorganize their classroom structure. According to Vicky: “Collaboration came as things evolved. We collaborated as we never have before to meet each and every student’s need.”

The five 5th grade classrooms were regrouped for content area instruction and the teachers each focused on their area of expertise. Vicky went on to say “this has never felt like a project. It is 5 dedicated and knowledgeable teachers focusing on their area of expertise. This is a group of teacher leaders collaborating together to positively impacted the lives of 80 students.” Vicky’s leadership and collaboration is a prime example of a teacher using their knowledge and gifts to design an organized classroom for today’s education.

Vicky’s leadership led to collaboration and the collaboration led to student growth. Vicky has seen significant improvement in student achievement in all subjects, but specifically in writing for the lowest achieving students.

Teamwork and leadership: two sides of the same coin

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